Kevin Willis

News Director

Kevin is the News Director at WKU Public Radio.  He has been with the station since 1999, and was previously the Assistant News Director, and also served as local host of Morning Edition.  

He is a broadcast journalism graduate of WKU, and has won numerous awards for his reporting and feature production. 

Kevin grew up in Radcliff, Kentucky and currently lives in Glasgow.

Ways to Connect

Update at 9:00 a.m.:

The WKU-Kansas game will tip-off at 8:50 p.m. Friday in Kansas City, Mo. The game will be aired on TNT.

Original post:

The WKU Hilltoppers are headed to Kansas City, Mo., to take on the Kansas Jayhawks in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The Hilltoppers are the #16 seed in the South Region, and will be a heavy underdog against the Big 12 tournament champion Jayhawks, the region's #1 seed.

The 20-15 Hilltoppers received an automatic bid to the Big Dance after winning the Sun Belt conference championship last week. This will mark WKU's second straight NCAA appearance.

The Hilltoppers won their first-round matchup last season before losing to eventual national champion Kentucky.

The Marion County Lady Knights came into the season hoping to finish what they started last year. They ended up doing that, plus making history.

Marion County beat Notre Dame 52-36 Saturday night to win the 2013 Kentucky girl's high school basketball championship. The Lady Knights were perfect on the season, 39-0, becoming only the third girl's team in state history to go a season without a loss.

The Lady Knights were open all season about their goal: to win the state title after losing in the championship matchup last year to Louisville DuPont Manual.

Miss Basketball finalist Makayla Epps was named Sweet 16 MVP, twenty years after her father, Anthony Epps, was named MVP of the boy's Sweet 16. Anthony Epps led Marion County to the 1993 championship and has had a front-row seat to his daughter's exploits, serving as an assistant coach to the Lady Knights.

Saturday night's attendance of 6,259 at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green was a record for a girl's final at WKU.

Update at 2:00 p.m.:

It will be Marion County vs. Notre Dame for the Kentucky girl's basketball championship Saturday evening.

Notre Dame, from northern Kentucky, upset the defending state champion, DuPont Manual, 64-60 in Saturday's second semifinal at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green.

In the day's first game, undefeated Marion County had no trouble with Anderson County. The #1 Lady Knights won 72-49, and will have a chance to win a state title and become just the third Kentucky girl's team to ever finish a season without a loss.

The championship game tips off at 8 p.m.

Two schools from our listening area—including the state’s number-one ranked team—are still alive in the Girl’s Sweet 16 high school basketball tournament in Bowling Green.

The tournament-favorite Marion County Lady Knights take on Montgomery County in Friday's first quarterfinal. And Friday evening, the Owensboro Catholic Lady Aces play defending state champs DuPont Manuel of Louisville.

The day’s other two quarterfinals feature Anderson County versus Shelby Valley, and Marshall County against Notre Dame. Today’s winners play in two semifinal games tomorrow morning, with the champion crowned Saturday night.

Here's Friday's schedule:

The Owensboro Catholic Lady Aces are on to the second round of the Kentucky Girl’s Sweet 16 basketball tournament.

Owensboro Catholic beat Lincoln County 66-55 Thursday afternoon at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green.

Owensboro Catholic’s Rebecca Greenwell scored 32 points and had 12 rebounds. The Duke-bound senior is one of the highest-ranked players in the state, and is reportedly playing with a torn meniscus in one of her knees.

The Lady Aces will next play defending state champ duPont Manuel of Louisville, who beat Mercy Thursday 74-60. The Owensboro Catholic-Manuel game is Friday at 6:30 p.m. central.

Kentucky LRC

A Warren County lawmaker says he feels good about the chances of a pension reform measure being finalized by the end of the legislative session. Republican Representative Jim DeCesare told WKU Public Radio he doesn’t think there are many differences remaining between the two parties.

“It was my understanding that when we left there both sides weren’t that far apart," said the Rockfield lawmaker. "We just have some details to work out on three or four main issues. And the hope is that they can come to some sort of a conclusion and some kind of result that everybody can live with.”

DeCesare said pension reform is “without a doubt” the single most important issue lawmakers need to hammer out before the session ends. A bill passed by the Republican-led Senate creates 401-K like retirement plan for new government workers, while a House-passed bill would use money raised from the lottery and horse tracks to fund the state’s pension contributions.

Most Kentucky lawmakers are back home for the next week-and-a-half, while some conferees remain at the state capitol trying to work out differences between the House and Senate. All lawmakers will return to Frankfort March 25-26 for the final two days of the regular session.

Update at 10:15 a.m.:

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has given the all-clear following Thursday morning's accident on I-65 in Hart County.

All lanes and the exit ramp of Northbound I-65 are open at Exit 71 in Hart County following a multi-commercial vehicle and personal vehicle crash that occurred around 4 a.m. central.

Original post:

An early morning wreck on I-65 north in Hart County has reduced the interstate to one lane. The accident involving a multi-commercial vehicle and personal vehicle took place around 4 a.m. local time.

Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner is speaking out against efforts to amend his number one legislative priority—a much talked-about industrial hemp measure. James Comer says an amendment allowing five years of hemp growing demonstration projects in the state is just an effort to kill the bill.

The measure has enjoyed a good deal of bipartisan support in Frankfort, and passed the full Senate and the House Agriculture Committee. But the bill is now hanging by a thread after House Speaker Greg Stumbo refused to allow the bill an up-or-down vote. And the Courier-Journal reports Comer isn’t pleased with an amendment offered this week that would have the Kentucky State Police—instead of the Agriculture Department—issue licenses for hemp-growing demonstration projects.

Still, the bill’s sponsor—Senator Paul Hornback of Shelbyville—says he plans to meet with House leaders next week to allow some kind of action on the measure when lawmakers return for the final two days of the session on March 25th and 26th.

Kentucky's top-ranked girl’s basketball team is off to an impressive start in the Sweet 16 basketball tournament. The Marion County Lady Knights beat Bowling Green 64-to-43 Wednesday afternoon in the opening game of the tournament at WKU’s E.A. Diddle Arena.

The Lady Knights will next take on Montgomery County Friday afternoon in the tournament quarterfinals.

Marion County is now 36-0 on the year and is trying to become just the third Kentucky girl’s team ever to go an entire season undefeated.

Another team from the WKU Public Radio listening area, the Henderson County Lady Colonels, lost their first-round game Wednesday. Anderson County beat the Lady Colonels 65-54.

The Owensboro Catholic Lady Aces face off against Lincoln County Thursday afternoon.

Kevin Willis

The WKU men's basketball team received a hero's welcome Tuesday afternoon after their trip home from the Sun Belt Conference championship. Monday night's win in the title game means WKU will play in the NCAA tournament for the second straight year.

After being congratulated by fans outside E.A. Diddle Arena, sophomore forward and Bowling Green native George Fant said he wasn't thinking about what tournament seed the Hilltoppers will receive this Sunday.

"I don't know what we deserve. I don't really want to get into that. I'm just happy with the fact that we're there. For a team that was supposed to be the seventh-best team in our conference, to do this two years in a row is unbelievable," said Fant, who scored 17 points and had 13 rebounds in Monday night's win over Florida International.

Sophomore guard T.J. Price also refused to predict what seed he thought WKU would receive. The Louisiana native says he can't wait to experience the excitement of the NCAA tournament again.

"Just the feeling...when you step out on that court there's no better feeling ever. I remember last year how I felt, and I've always said I wanted the same feeling again, and now I get that chance," Price told WKU Public Radio.

Gov. Steve Beshear will lead an international business trade mission to Canada this summer. The trip will be the first-ever trade mission of the Kentucky Export Initiative, and will be aimed at boosting commerce between the Bluegrass State and America’s northern neighbor.

Canada already serves as Kentucky’s number one export destination, with the commonwealth exporting $7.3 billion in products and services there in 2012. That’s more than four times the total goods and services exported to Kentucky’s number two trading partner, Mexico.

The Kentucky trade mission will take place June 4-7 in Toronto.

outdoorbasecamp.com

The superintendent of Mammoth Cave National Park has announced the south-central Kentucky attraction has begun to implement budget cuts related to the sequestration. Sarah Craighead says Mammoth Cave is prepared to cut five-percent of its budget.

In the first effects of the cuts that will be felt by the public, the Houchin Ferry and Houchin Ferry campground did not open this week as scheduled. Houchin Ferry shuttles vehicles across the Green River near Brownsville.

In a previous interview with WKU Public Radio, Superintendent Craighead mentioned there will fewer cave tour options this summer, as well.

"We will not be hiring about seven seasonal tour guides that we intended to hire for the summer. And as a result we will eliminate a couple of the tours, because we won't have the guides available to give those tours," Craighead said.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) isn't ready to throw its weight behind a possible Kentucky Senate run by actress Ashley Judd. Politico reports the group's executive director, Guy Cecil, called Judd just one in a "handful of quality candidates in Kentucky" who could take on U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Cecil, in a conference call with reporters Monday, refused to deny a separate report in the Louisville Eccentric Observer that said the DSCC is reevaluating Judd, while giving a second look at another possible Democratic Senate challenger: Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Citing a poll that shows 55 percent of Kentuckians view McConnell unfavorably, Cecil described the Louisville Republican as "one of the most unpopular senators in the country."

Meanwhile, The Huffington Post's Howard Fineman has reported Judd has told advisors that she plans to announce her Senate candidacy around the time of the Kentucky Derby, which is May 4.

WKU Athletic Meda Relations

It wouldn't be a postseason without the WKU Hilltoppers winning four games in four days.

WKU pulled off the feat for the second straight season, beating Florida International Monday night 65-63 for the Sun Belt Conference Championship.

With the win, the Hilltoppers will make their second straight appearance in the NCAA tournament.

Sophomore forward and Bowling Green native George Fant led the Toppers with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Senior guard Jamal Crook also scored 17, including some clutch late-game free throws that helped seal the deal for WKU.

Update at 12:52 p.m.:

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is filibustering the nomination of John Brennan as the next C.I.A director.

Paul, a Bowling Green Republican, is expressing his displeasure with Brennan's testimony on the issue of the possible use of drones by the U.S. government to attack citizens on American soil.

Paul is also upset with a letter sent to him by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. In the letter, Holder said the President had the right to order drone strikes against American citizens in the U.S.

Speaking on the floor of the Senate Wednesday, Paul said "no one person, no one politician should be allowed to judge the guilt, to charge an individual, to judge the guilt of an individual and to execute an individual. It goes against everything that we fundamentally believe in our country."

Original post:

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is blasting Attorney General Eric Holder's statement that President Obama could order the use of deadly force against an American inside the United States. The claim came in a letter Holder sent to Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul that was released Tuesday.

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